Wednesday, October 29, 2008


heh. David Sedaris on the 'undecided voters':

I look at these people and can’t quite believe that they exist. Are they professional actors? I wonder. Or are they simply laymen who want a lot of attention?

To put them in perspective, I think of being on an airplane. The flight attendant comes down the aisle with her food cart and, eventually, parks it beside my seat. “Can I interest you in the chicken?” she asks. “Or would you prefer the platter of shit with bits of broken glass in it?”

To be undecided in this election is to pause for a moment and then ask how the chicken is cooked.

I mean, really, what’s to be confused about?

I know, right? What are they waiting for? I think they're really 'decided' but they just like acting all mysterious about it.


What the... ? Damn, the GOP is turning into the party of survivalists.

Maybe I'm a spoiled city girl but I like roads and bridges and mail delivery and a unified military instead of a bunch of little militias scattered around the country armed with blunderbusses. I don't want to live off the grid and have all these homeschooled kids telling me Jesus rode on dinosaurs.

I like civilization. If that makes me a commie, then I'm a commie.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

I laughed

Comment from Jennifer at the Political Animal blog, on a post relating to GOP infighting: "In the one piece of good financial news we've seen in the past month, popcorn futures are way up."

Friday, October 24, 2008

Faux Violence

You all heard the story of the poor pitiful McCain campaign volunteer who was mugged by an angry Obama supporter, who cut a letter 'B' on her face? Yeah, she made it up.

You understand this comes from, of course... here's all these news stories out there of crazed Palin supporters race-baiting reporters and so on. One might expect the campaign to try to rein in their more neanderthal supporters, but no... they need them. So we need a little Obama-on-McCain violence to 'balance' out the storyline. Then the MSM can do their usual 'everybody does it' false equivalencing.

Only problem is, you can't expect a twenty-year-old apparent-moron to do a very good job at setting up the scene.

I could have told them that.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Ezra cracks me up:

Sarah Palin wasn't a beet farmer last week. She was a governor. Presumably, she had clothing already.

Palin shakes down God

From the CNN Political Ticker:

In an interview posted online Wednesday, Sarah Palin told Dr. James Dobson of “Focus on the Family” that she is confident God will do “the right thing for America” on Nov. 4.
Nice little creation you got here, God. It'd be a shame if something... happened to it... know what I mean?


Sully on McCain:

He's George W. Bush, without the prudence and caution.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Nate Silver suspects, with evidence, that the recent 'tightening' of the polls is a Dead Cat Bounce.


I just had to transcribe and admire this quote from Shakespeare's Sister Melissa:

And, if you're anything like me, you'll be left bitterly wondering why it is that we can't have a functioning economy and a responsible press simultaneously.

Sing it.

What I keep saying

Maybe you'll listen to the Christian Science Monitor?

Why the economy fares much better under Democrats

Princeton, N.J. – John McCain is a maverick and Barack Obama is a postpartisan problem-solver. But you wouldn't know it by looking at their economic plans. Both candidates' proposals faithfully reflect the traditional economic priorities of their respective parties. That makes the track records of past Democratic and Republican administrations a very useful benchmark for assessing how the economy might perform under a President McCain or a President Obama. The bottom line: During the past 60 years, Democrats have presided over much less unemployment and much more robust income growth.

I have never understood, particularly after the excesses of the Reagan years, why the GOP has managed to maintain the lead (until very recently) on 'knows how to deal with the economy'. It NEVER fails; the GOP comes in and fucks everything up royally and then leaves the mess for a Democratic president to fix.

Please please, can we finally admit the GOP SUCKS at managing the economy? They always have!

Every cloud has a silver lining

From WaPo:

The recent collapse on Wall Street appears to have found another victim: the independent political groups aiming to make an impact on the 2008 elections.

Expected to be a force in the final weeks of the presidential race, outside groups and the pointed advertising they brought to the airwaves in recent campaigns are barely evident this year. Political operatives say the fact that many wealthy potential donors have shied away from investing in efforts such as the infamous Swift Boat Veterans for Truth is that they are simply too busy trying to salvage their own financial portfolios.

I believe the phrase you're looking for is 'hoist on their own petard'.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The sliming of Powell?

I wonder how long it's going to take for the people who defended Powell for years for his egregious UN testimony to decide that he's not the GOP's Great Black Hope, but indeed, a sell-out who puts race above party?

UPDATE: Well, that didn't take long.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

What real fraud looks like

... in West Virginia.

At least three early voters in Jackson County had a hard time voting for candidates they want to win.

Virginia Matheney and Calvin Thomas said touch-screen machines in the county clerk's office in Ripley kept switching their votes from Democratic to Republican candidates.

"When I touched the screen for Barack Obama, the check mark moved from his box to the box indicating a vote for John McCain," said Matheney, who lives in Kenna.

When she reported the problem, she said, the poll worker in charge "responded that everything was all right. It was just that the screen was sensitive and I was touching the screen too hard. She instructed me to use only my fingernail."

Even after she began using her fingernail, Matheney said, the problem persisted.


Calvin Thomas, 81, who retired from Kaiser Aluminum in Ravenswood in 1983 and now lives in Ripley, experienced the same problem.

"When I pushed Obama, it jumped to McCain. When I went down to governor's office and punched [Gov. Joe] Manchin, it went to the other dude. When I went to Karen Facemyer [the incumbent Republican state senator], I pushed the Democrat, but it jumped again.

"The rest of them were OK, but the machine sent my votes for those top three offices from the Democrat to the Republican," Thomas said.


"Sometimes machines can become miscalibrated when they are moved from storage facilities to early voting areas," Bailey said Friday. "We get a couple of calls about this each election year."

Most voting machines in most counties do work properly, Bailey added. [ED: Pshew. Well color ME relieved.]


Waybright blamed the problem on voters.

Funny how it only tried to change democratic votes. I'm sure that's a coincidence.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Desperate to get him gone

Weird op-ed from the Boston Globe:

Fast track the new president

THE NEXT PRESIDENT will be elected on Nov. 4, but will not take office until Jan. 20. Normally, this lag time is not an issue. But with the financial system in meltdown, the "real" economy threatening to follow, and a feckless, lame-duck administration unable to lead, this yawning interval is a problem. If history is any guide, a very big problem.

Consider the election of 1932, perhaps the closest historical analogy to our current situation. The Great Depression was already in full swing when Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected on Nov. 8 to succeed Herbert Hoover. Unfortunately, things went from bad to worse in the four months between Roosevelt's election and inauguration. (At that time, the new president didn't take office until March 4.) During those dreadful days, the index of industrial production dropped to an all-time low. The unemployment rate soared to an all-time high. Twenty-three states intervened in their banking systems with unprecedented force. By the time Roosevelt took office, numerous banks had been closed or placed under increased state regulation. On Inauguration Day itself, New York Governor Herbert H. Lehman declared a two-day bank holiday.

Meanwhile, the federal government was paralyzed. Hoover and Roosevelt could not agree on a joint course of action. The economy continued its historic plunge, and ever more Americans lost not only their incomes but their hope. However, bold responses such as a national banking holiday - not to mention the psychological boost of an inspiring new leader declaring that "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself" - would have to wait for March.

How can we avoid a similar fate? The present January inaugural date is fixed by the 20th Amendment to the Constitution. Changing that would take years, not days.

But there is a way out - if our political leaders are smart, courageous, and public-spirited enough to take it.

Assume that Barack Obama wins the election, as polls show is increasingly likely. The following day, Vice President Cheney should be prevailed upon to resign. Using his powers to designate a successor under the 25th Amendment, President Bush should then appoint, and Congress should confirm, Obama as vice president (just as Richard Nixon appointed Gerald Ford vice president in 1973 when Spiro Agnew resigned). Bush himself should then resign, elevating Obama to the presidency - as Ford became president when Nixon resigned. Obama should then appoint Joe Biden as vice president.

With Congress's confirmation of Biden, the new administration would be in place, on the job, and ready to tackle the economic crisis - in November, not January. (The electoral college's official ratification of the election results in December would merely rubber-stamp the transition.)

Such extraordinary action would be particularly appropriate in the event of an Obama/Biden victory, since that ticket promises the most dramatic change from the current administration's approach and policies.

However, it could be pursued with equal effectiveness if the McCain/Palin ticket is victorious. The goal remains the same: Get the new administration up, running, and dealing with the crisis as quickly as possible. It is simply vital for the government to act in as urgent a fashion as the situation demands.

The founding fathers' original four-month "interregnum" may have made sense at a time when election results were disseminated and presidents-elect transported to Washington at a horse's pace. The 20th Amendment, adopted in 1933, shortened that interval to its present 11 weeks. That amendment moved us in the right direction. It simply didn't go far enough.

Most free nations change administrations with far greater dispatch. The British, for example, replace their governments virtually overnight. If you're elected prime minister on Thursday, the Queen calls you to the palace on Friday and asks you to form a new government. Meanwhile, the movers are already packing up your predecessor.

While I appreciate the fear and panic that this suggestion springs from, can anyone honestly picture Cheney leaving one second before he has to?

Thursday, October 16, 2008


So last night McCain said:

We need to know the full extent of Senator Obama's relationship with ACORN, who is now on the verge of maybe perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter history in this country, maybe destroying the fabric of democracy.
ACORN on the verge of perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter history? God knows I'm not a lawyer, but I think they just got grounds for a defamation lawsuit.

If anyone is still swallowing this line of argument, the best debunking I've seen is, incredibly, on Gawker.

Best Live-blogging

... of the Debate Award goes to Time. Highlights:

9:06 p.m. - Michael Grunwald: I'm sorry to start with facts, but this mess did NOT start with fannie and freddie. They buy mortgages - they don't issue mortgages. I'm in a grouchy mood - I'm going to drink when they lie.

9:14 p.m - Karen Tumulty: Tammy asks: "Are there actually plumbers who make less than $250K a year?"

9:33 p.m. - Michael Grunwald: If mccain's head explodes, is the debate over?

9:33 p.m. - Jim Poniewozik: McCain's got a point. Who among us has ever thrown a big party without someone yelling "Kill him!"

9:40 p.m. - Michael Grunwald: I don't mean to say my opponent is a terrorist...but...

9:40 p.m. - Karen Tumulty: Schieffer now asking each candidate to contemplate his own death. This has to be a debate first.

9:41 p.m. - Jim Poniewozik: @KT: "Personally, I feel it would be better if my opponent's running mate became president. Because it would mean that lying bastard sitting over there is dead!"

10:00 p.m. - Michael Grunwald: Excuse me: I need to go register

10:01 p.m. - Jim Poniewozik: @MG: Too late. It's a porn site.

10:18 p.m. - Michael Grunwald: I love the use of "sexuality" as a synonym for "sex.". But is it really sacred? I'd say it depends who you're having sexuality with.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Right track?

From the NYT:

In the face of economic upheaval in the United States, a record 89 percent of Americans now say the country has pretty seriously gotten off on the wrong track while just 7 percent of Americans say the country is going in the right direction, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News Poll.
Much is made of the fact that 89% is a record for the 'wrong track' answer, but I have a more pertinent question, I think.

Who are the seven percent? What do they see going on that they like? Are they back-to-the-stone-age survivalists? Schadenfreude addicts? What's their story? I want to know.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Time warping

So the other day, I read the following comment on a blogpost: "America: Love it or Leave It." The poster was, from context, not being ironic.

Wow. Took me back. I felt like posting 'Power to the People!' and 'Don't trust anyone over thirty!', which at my age would be simply ludicrous.

Honestly, these twenty- and thirty-somethings crack me up.

Overworked Jesus

Via Sully:

At a McCain rally, an invocation:

"I would also pray, Lord, that your reputation is involved in all that happens between now and November, because there are millions of people around this world praying to their god — whether it's Hindu, Buddha, Allah — that his opponent wins, for a variety of reasons," [Pastor] Conrad said.

"And Lord, I pray that you would guard your own reputation, because they're going to think that their god is bigger than you, if that happens. So I pray that you will step forward and honor your own name with all that happens between now and Election Day,"

If Jesus doesn't come through for you, Reverend, it's probably because he's got his hands full dealing with all those high school football rivalries.

For comparison, here's a little prayer I invoke most weekdays: "Goddess, mother, full of grace, help me find a parking place."

She doesn't listen to me either.

Friday, October 10, 2008

A Tale of Two Rallies


Palin's rally featured the more impressive entrance, with giant video screens showing the crowd the slowly turning campaign bus as it approached the cavernous inside venue. Finally, the fog machines hit high blast, the huge blue curtain parted, and the bus drove right inside the hall. As "Eye of the Tiger" blasted over the loudspeakers, Palin bounded on stage to a full-throated roar. It was some pretty sweet stagecraft, (even if had Obama tried it he'd have been ridiculed for behaving as a "celebrity"). [ED: Oh. My. God]


The language that the two candidates used on yet another rough economic day showed contrast. For Obama's part, threaded through an extensive discussion of economic policy were repeated phrases: "I have confidence," "I believe in you," "we can do this," "we're in this together," and "together, we cannot fail." On the other hand, Palin's comments were directed at Obama -- she was in full hockey agitator mode -- "terrorist," "judgment," "ambition." As for DHL shutting down 8,000 jobs in Wilmington, "we're gonna do something about it." Obama is afraid of mavericks. And Obama is a very dangerous guy who can't be trusted. Big disconnect from the day's events. While most of the 10,500 or so people cheered loudly, I noticed a number of people who stood with arms folded as the attacks unrolled.

Obama spent almost his whole speech talking about the economy. Palin showed she was capable of talking specifics, but only when breaking down the exact whens and wheres of Obama meeting Ayers, and who said what when, on what interview. Very, very detailed. It was jarring -- the absence of detailed economic discussion. Most people think we're heading for another depression. I think it works well on people already sold on voting Republican but not as well on undecided voters or independents.

Read the whole thing. And WTF? The fog machines?

"Sorry, Dad, I'm Voting for Obama"

William F. Buckley's son Christopher:

I am—drum roll, please, cue trumpets—making this announcement in the cyberpages of The Daily Beast (what joy to be writing for a publication so named!) rather than in the pages of National Review, where I write the back-page column. For a reason: My colleague, the superb and very dishy Kathleen Parker, recently wrote in National Review Online a column stating what John Cleese as Basil Fawlty would call “the bleeding obvious”: namely, that Sarah Palin is an embarrassment, and a dangerous one at that. She’s not exactly alone. New York Times columnist David Brooks, who began his career at NR, just called Governor Palin “a cancer on the Republican Party.”

As for Kathleen, she has to date received 12,000 (quite literally) foam-at-the-mouth hate-emails. One correspondent, if that’s quite the right word, suggested that Kathleen’s mother should have aborted her and tossed the fetus into a Dumpster. There’s Socratic dialogue for you. Dear Pup once said to me sighfully after a right-winger who fancied himself a WFB protégé had said something transcendently and provocatively cretinous, “You know, I’ve spent my entire life time separating the Right from the kooks.” Well, the dear man did his best. At any rate, I don’t have the kidney at the moment for 12,000 emails saying how good it is he’s no longer alive to see his Judas of a son endorse for the presidency a covert Muslim who pals around with the Weather Underground. So, you’re reading it here first.

He is, predictably, getting the same kind of hate in comments that he strove to avoid by eschewing the National Review venue.

UPDATE: Kevin Drum, now blogging at Mother Jones instead of Washington Monthly, highlights the same paragraphs and adds:

The modern GOP is the party of Newt Gingrich, Tom DeLay, Karl Rove, George Bush, Dick Cheney, John McCain, and Sarah Palin. It's not just off the rails. It doesn't even know where the rails are anymore.

Demagoguing ACORN

If you are really interested in vote fraud (as opposed to being only interested in seizing on any hints or rumors you can find to fuel your hatred of the Democratic Party), you really need to read this piece by Josh Marshall.

Money quote:

Remember, most of those now-famous fired US Attorneys from 2007 were Republican appointees who were canned after they got tasked with investigating allegations of widespread vote fraud, did everything they could to find it, but came up with nothing. That was the wrong answer so Karl Rove and his crew at the Justice Department fired them.
It's clear why they do this, of course. It not only allows them to practice intimidating 'poll-watching' tactics in high-minority, high-dem neighborhoods to suppress the vote, it also allows them to feed their raw-red-meat-eating crazies with both an explanation of why their team lost and give them further bogus reasons to hate the legitimate winner.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

What neither side can say

Both campaigns are implicitly lying to the public. I'm going to cut both of them some slack, however. They have to - the first person to tell the truth before election day loses.

They're lying, of course, about the economy. I think it's safe to say we're not going to be seeing any huge tax cuts in the near term. More, I think any cutting of government spending is going to be cosmetic and in the noise level. If anything, in times like these, the government is going to have to spend MORE money, yes, even money we don't have.

If McCain admits this, he loses the 'burn the house down' deficit hawks. If Obama admits this, he gets called a 'tax and spend liberal mortgaging your children's future'.

Interesting article at HuffPo lays out the options. Being a 'liberal rag', of course, they come from the assumption that Obama is the next President (which I think is a pretty fair bet, love him or hate him), but the discussion holds for either candidate.

I found this interesting:

The opposite argument is that the political costs of voicing pessimism are prohibitive, that there is plenty of opportunity to prepare voters for drastic action after election day, and that a candidate risks worsening conditions by sounding strong warnings. The classic example to support this case is the 1932 Depression-era campaign of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who said little or nothing while campaigning in 1932 to indicate the contours of his New Deal program.

"Obama can downplay the economic crisis now in order not to scare voters too much. But if he wins he should immediately do what Franklin Roosevelt did 70 years ago, which is provide himself a warrant for dramatic, status quo-altering changes by creating a narrative that demands a new, disruptive type of politics and a realigning set of policies to go with it," argues University of Maryland political scientist Tom Schaller.


Political analyst Charlie Cook, publisher of the Cook Political Report, tells the Huffington Post he expects "that if Obama wins, he immediately takes out the garbage -- they push out all the problems, that the country, the financial situation is far worse than anyone ever suspected, forcing big policy changes far greater than anyone anticipated. Get the problems out there quick, while President Bush still owns them, then position yourself as having to clean up the mess."

Stay tuned for New Deal II.

Sigh. Sequels.

Naderites, are you out there?

Remember the election of '00? Remember trying to talk sense into people who were planning to vote for Ralph Nader? Remember saying a vote for Nader is a vote for George Bush? Remember their reply? "There's no difference between the two major parties so it doesn't matter."

Do you suppose they still believe that? Just wondering.

Ruled by Resentment

Listening to the national discourse, it's pretty easy to see that any possible bailout of individuals in bad mortgage loans is probably going to fail. That is, if it's left up to the voters. I'm hearing the same kind of anger and resentment that we heard over the 'Wall Street Bailout' bill. To wit, people feel that they've been responsible, took on no more debt than they could afford, paid their bills on time - often at considerable difficulty - and for the government to bail out an imprudent neighbor who took advantage of what we now know was a ludicrous subprime loan just isn't fair.

It's odd but I think true that people would rather see their street plummet into decay with foreclosure lockboxes on every other door and their house value in the toilet in preference to seeing someone they have to see every day getting something they don't think they deserve.

Petty? Very. Short-sighted? Of course. But that's the way most people are. Trying telling them that bailing out their neighbor is ultimately in their own long-term best interests. Go on, try.

Weirdly, there's this from the National Review's David Frum, hardly a bleeding heart:

Those who press this Ayers line of attack are whipping Republicans and conservatives into a fury that is going to be very hard to calm after November. Is it really wise to send conservatives into opposition in a mood of disdain and fury for a man who may well be the next president of the United States, incidentally the first African-American president?
I don't expect this line of reasoning to go over well with his readers.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008


Monday, October 06, 2008

In Defense of Wasteful Spending

One of John McCain's 'best' lines on the campaign trail is when he rails against earmarks, and cites the example of the earmark to study the DNA of bears. He doesn't know, he waggishly remarks, if it's a criminal issue or a question of paternity, but he's pretty sure it's a waste of taxpayers' money.

Only... is it really?

The Scientific American puts on a pretty good defense for studying the DNA of bears, grizzly bears, as it turns out. They are a critically endangered species, and you simply can't tell how well your efforts to preseve the species is going if you don't know what your population is now.

The Federal Government currently provides more than half the funds for university research, a number I'm not suggesting should go down; if anything, it should be increased. Pure 'free marketeers' might claim that if something is important enough, a private sponsor would step up to fund the research. But they argue against human behavior. Sure, private entities sponsor a lot of the research that goes on in the US, but they are motivated by the potential for a future profit. When it comes to resources that are held in common, such as the environment, you run up against The Tragedy of the Commons, "a dilemma in which multiple individuals acting independently in their own self-interest can ultimately destroy a shared resource even where it is clear that it is not in anyone's long term interest for this to happen."

Government was created specifically when the first group of individuals yielded some of their autonomy to the first tribal Big Man, giving him authority to deal with issues of common resources and threats that cannot adequately be dealt with by individuals or independent groups. Scoring cheap political points at the expense of the ecology of the planet is shabby. And lest anyone think I am just taking the 'anti-GOP' position, let me make clear that I extend my approval to Governor Palin's seal DNA study. Frankly, we can't spend enough on trying to unpack the effects of the escalating climate crisis.

Oh, and the bear DNA study? It was apparently fun to mock, but not worth voting against:

Despite the fun McCain had ridiculing the bear project on the Senate floor, he didn’t actually try to remove it from the bill. He did introduce several amendments, including three to reduce funding for projects he considered wasteful or harmful, but none removing the grizzly bear project appropriations. And despite his criticisms, he voted in favor of the final bill.

Educating John Cole

Here's John Cole on Sarah Palin's latest:

I read her comments in their entirety, watched the video, and while it was nasty and from my perspective, bullshit, there didn’t seem to me to be any racial component. That was the same sort of bilge they throw at any Democrat- divisive and a sign of desperation, yes, but racial subtext? I am not seeing it.
Let me unpack it for you, John. Obama 'pals around with terrorists' and doesn't see the US like 'other Americans' do? Hmm. Terrorists are swarthy foreigners (nevermind that Palin was here referring to homegrown former-sixties-radical William Ayers) who see America as a great big target. My grannie got an email saying that Obama is a Muslin (sic). Therefore Obama must be a swarthy terrorist who sees America as a great big target too.

Get it? It's kind of a multi-layered dogwhistle, but a dogwhistle none the less.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Dishonoring Virginia

Sigh. My state:

A local newspaper columnist, in a spoof of Obama’s platform, wrote in one recent piece that the Democrat would hire the rapper Ludacris to paint the White House black (a reference to a pro-Obama song by Ludacris), and divert more foreign aid to Africa so "the Obama family there can skim enough to allow them to free their goats and live the American Dream." He joked that Obama would replace the 50 stars on the U.S. flag "with a star and crescent logo," an Islamic symbol, and that his policy on drugs would be to "raise taxes to pay for Obama's inner-city political base."

The columnist, Bobby May, is also treasurer of the Buchanan County Republican Party and was listed in a July news release as the county's representative on McCain's Virginia leadership team, though he said his column reflected his views alone, and he denied it was racist.

This Macaca Moment was brought to you courtesy of your friendly GOP.

Nothing they won't lie about

From ABC news:

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin fought to protest atrocities in Sudan by dropping assets tied to the country's brutal regime from the state's multi-billion-dollar investment fund, she claimed during Thursday's vice presidential debate.

Not quite, according to a review of the public record – and according to the recollections of a legislator and others who pushed a measure to divest Alaskan holdings in Sudan-linked investments.

"The [Palin] administration killed our bill," said Alaska state representative Les Gara, D-Anchorage. Gara and state Rep. Bob Lynn, R-Anchorage, co-sponsored a resolution early this year to force the Alaska Permanent Fund – a $40 billion investment fund, a portion of whose dividends are distributed annually to state residents – to divest millions of dollars in holdings tied to the Sudanese government.


But a search of news clips and transcripts from the first three months of this year did not turn up an instance in which Palin mentioned the Sudanese crisis or concerns about Alaska's investments tied to the ruling regime. Moreover, Palin's administration openly opposed the bill, and stated its opposition in a public hearing on the measure.

"The legislation is well-intended, and the desire to make a difference is noble, but mixing moral and political agendas at the expense of our citizens' financial security is not a good combination," testified Brian Andrews, Palin's deputy revenue commissioner, before a hearing on the Gara-Lynn Sudan divestment bill in February. Minutes from the meeting are posted online by the legislature.


Lynn said he and Palin agreed to re-introduce the bill next January, and push to pass it then. He declined to consider whether stronger support from Palin would have helped the bill survive this winter. "I'm not going to do this what if, what if, what if," he said. "These are hypotheticals."

So. We get to take credit for things we're going to do now? guess I can claim a tax deduction for the $20,000 I'm going to give to charity someday? And the Nobel Prize I'm going to win in the next decade or two? On my resume now. Hey, intentions count, right?

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Ground troops

Wow, read this story about the difference between the Obama and McCain ground troops in Missouri.

Way to piss off the blogger, McCranky.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Dragon Eggs

Okay, this is sort of silly, but please click on my dragon eggs - it will help them hatch.

Adopt one today!

Adopt one today!

Adopt one today!

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Educating Sarah

I remain perplexed at otherwise intelligent people's fascination with Sarah Palin. She's so real, so authentic, yadda yadda...

Oh, I know people like Cinderella stories and the whole McCain/Palin ticket is a pretty fair approximation of 'Educating Rita', with John McCain in the Michael Caine role of crusty misanthropic professor brought back to life by the Cockney hairdresser (read: Alaskan hockeymom) who wants to Better Herself.

There's a persistent meme in America that the Little Guy can aspire to the highest levels; a uniquely American trope - in 'old Europe' the hero's journey usually involved a nondescript youth discovering his royal blood, is the One Foretold, or is otherwise born superior. It's actually an admirable departure from the Motherlands that people in the New World no longer believe that one's station is determined at birth.

Ahem. That said, at its worst, this otherwise admirable belief often degenerates to an anti-intellectualism which would have you believe that 'common sense' trumps actual hard-won expertise and knowledge. It's certainly true that there is a kind of wisdom to be found in experiences in rustic pursuits and small towns, but there are degrees of complexity that exceed the abilities of the homespun wit to cut through, absent any substantive knowledge of the issue at hand.

I'm not totally insensitive, and you'd have to have a heart of stone not to root for the Unsinkable Molly Brown, for instance, when she vows to learn to read and write, and learns to dress like a girl instead of a mule skinner. And yet, however much one might admire her aspirations and her formidable determination, would you really take her opinion on, say, monetary policy? after she hid the paper money in the potbelly stove?

Legally Blonde is fiction, people - FICTION. Some jobs require not only a working body of knowledge, but a proven ability to acquire MORE knowledge quickly and continually and the Presidency (and VP is frankly nothing more than an emergency-backup president) is one of them.

We've seen what happens when an incurious know-nothing with a handful of beliefs substituting for understanding is in command of one of the most complex systems ever. How can anyone possibly be contemplating repeating the error?

Please, however much you may love a Cinderella story, don't bet the entire nation on your own fantasies.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008


Everyone is waxing wroth about the 700 Billion Bailout; I thought I'd pour some context onto the issue, just for grins and giggles.

We're already spent circa 600 billion on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Estimates of the total cost run from 1.2 to 3 trillion dollars. But never mind that. Here's another way to look at it.

The Federal government budget in 2007 was 2.7 trillion dollars, give or take a few billion. 700 billion is about a quarter of the total government budget for a year. That is, this is the equivalent of someone who makes $100,000 dollars taking out a $25,000 loan. That's a car, a kitchen remodel or a college loan.

But the price tag really isn't being borne by the US government, but ultimately by the US taxpayer. So what's the size of the total US economy? Almost 14 trillion dollars. So 700 billion becomes five percent of the total size of the economy. Is it worth that to keep the economy from becoming significantly smaller? Going back to the household income of 100,000, this is the equivalent of a 5,000 loan. Most of us could put that on a credit card. Or we could, before all the credit dried up.

Look, I'm not saying 700 billion is nothing, and I'd certainly prefer not to have to pay it. But I would have preferred not to be tossing trillions down the rathole in Iraq; in fact, if I had my druthers, I'd prefer to spend borrowed money bailing out Americans than colonizing a foreign country.

The GOP thinks you're stupid

Well, that's not any big surprise, of course; they've always operated on the assumption that the electorate is bone-ignorant, and they've gotten pretty far with it. But their game-playing over the issue of the 'bailout' bill has gotten insulting.

Last night I was watching one of those 'balanced' panels in which each side fielded a representative to try to convince us that the other side was playing politics with the current credit-markets crisis. And the GOPer said to the Dem that if it was all that important, the Dems could have passed the bill without the GOP at all - that 95 Dems also voted against the bill.

This presupposed that the listener (ie me) is completely unaware of how bills make it to the floor. I think most people (or at least people who follow politics at all, or at a minimum watched The West Wing) know how this goes, but for those of you who are actually as ignorant as the GOP thinks everyone is, a refresher:

Bills are never brought up for a vote unless the leadership has reason to think it will pass. If you ever wondered why a bill 'never makes it out of committee', this is usually why. And when a bill is universally unpopular with the electorate yet both parties support it, there are extensive negotiations over how many votes each party has to bring to bear to pass it. Because neither side wants to appear to be the sole owner of the bill, which would allow the other side to demagogue it in the election. The negotiations are pretty nuanced - one side might argue, for instance, that their base is more charged up against the bill and they should therefore only have to bring, say, a third of the yes votes to the winning total. The other side would have to consider whether that total would be enough to innoculate them against charges that It's All Their Fault.

Once the party leaderships have agreed on how many votes they can commit, they go back to their caucuses and start figuring out who can be allowed to vote against the unpopular bill (reps in shaky districts, typically) and those who have to take one for the team and vote for it. This is why there are 'party whips' - the title isn't honorary; they have a pretty significant job to do enforcing party discipline. (And to suggest that party discipline isn't necessary and that everyone should be allowed to vote 'their conscience' is naive - political parties are the ONLY way legislature ever makes it out of Congress alive.)

So it was kind of stunning that the 'bailout' bill failed on the floor. The GOP leadership immediately rushed to the microphones to blame Speaker Pelosi for being 'hyperpartisan' (something of a hoot, considering the extent to which they have demagogued the issue), and even a lot of 'reasonable' pundits laid part of the blame on her.

So we're led to believe that something that the leaders of both parties agree needs to be done for the good of the country (irrespective of the merits of the bill itself) failed because a few people got hurt feelings? I figured there were three options:

1.) the GOP negotiated in bad faith and never intended to let their membership help the bill pass in 'ownership significant' numbers. I honestly didn't believe this; they're in the minority now, and next year are going to be even more in the minority. Shanking the majority on an important vote would mean they would have two years of literally nothing to do to advance their own priorities.

2.) the GOP thought they had the votes they needed (or could get them) but were surprised to be mistaken, which would mean that the leadership is as weak as Bush proves to be, or

3.) The GOP literally had the votes in hand and five-six members defected over the aforementioned hurt feelings.

I also thought we'd never know which of those three possibilities were closest to the truth. But I reasoned without taking into consideration the GOP's propensity for high-stakes gambling, because we can now say with 100% certainty that Option One is the winner - the GOP never intended to vote for the bill. How can I be so certain?

Because on Monday morning, before the vote took place, the GOP had already sent out ads running against the Dems for voting for it. The wording of the ads, airing now, presumes that the Dems, being the Good Guys that they are, made up for the GOP defections and passed the bill.

Got that? While they're in negotiations on how to pass a bill, and appearing before cameras to say how important it is that this bill passes, they are already planning to pull enough votes so that the Dems take full ownership of an unpopular if necessary measure.

I don't know why I'm surprised. The party that could exploit 9/11 for political gain basically since 9/12/01 would do literally anything to maintain their own personal power.


Note: this is to say nothing of the actual content of the bill or the policies it would enact, and speaks only to the truly vile politics on display. Country first? Sh'yeah.